Local News

Development Near RBC Center Remains Hot Topic

Posted June 25, 2003 4:47 a.m. EDT

— Advocates for the

RBC Center

, formerly known as the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Raleigh, promised a "Meadowlands of the South" at its 1997 groundbreaking. But critics say those dreams have yet to become a reality.

The vision was a thriving development zone with the arena as the centerpiece. However, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said that is not his vision.

"I think the thinking has changed somewhat," he said.

Meeker said the arena area is not the hot spot for development.

"Most of these new facilities, such as the convention center, are looking to go downtown where, of course, the hotels and restaurants are, which is really a much more appropriate place for that kind of intense development," he said. "The arena is very successful .. but it really is a stand-alone facility in that sense."

Developer William Barker built an office building a block away from the arena and plans to build more.

"I don't know all that Mr. Meeker knows, but personally speaking, I like this area because of the accessibility," he said. "I'm thinking of downtown. One of the problems you have going downtown is parking."

A four-star hotel is in the works near Cardinal Gibbons High School. A plan for 154 acres of shops, restaurants and offices west of the arena is still years away. Other development is trickling in.

Meeker said he would prefer the planned Terry Sanford Center for the Performing Arts go to downtown Raleigh or downtown Durham rather than a site near the arena.

The NHL draft is coming to the RBC Center next June, but the new hotel will not be ready in time. Arena staffers are already trying to put together a series of shuttle busses to hotels and restaurants.